Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese remedy that has been used for centuries, similar to how certain soy sauce brands have been staples in Asian cuisine.
If you seek to lower your blood cholesterol level with red yeast rice supplements, you should know that it would be nothing but a crapshoot.
Red yeast rice includes Monacolin K, a chemical that decreases low-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol levels, similar to the prescription drug lovastatin.
However, here is the catch. Only half of the supplements you see in the market have Monacolin K, while the others are not even FDA-approved.
So, by opting for these supplements, you would not only be wasting your money, but they will also delay it for you to get any treatment for your high cholesterol.
Based on our testing, safety concerns, and user feedback, the worst red yeast rice brands to avoid are Swanson, Only Natural, Sundance, Nature’s Plus, Mason Natural, and Solaray.
Keep reading because you will also find a few highly recommended red yeast rice brands.
Table of Contents
- What is Monacolin K?
- 8 Red Yeast Rice Brands to Avoid
- 1. Spring Valley
- 2. Swanson
- 3. Only Natural
- 4. Sundance
- 5. Nature’s Plus
- 6. Mason Natural
- 7. Solaray
- 8. 21st Century Red Yeast Rice
- 5 Recommended Red Yeast Rice Brands
- 1. Arazo Nutrition
- 2. Thorne Research Choleast
- 3. Puritan’s Pride
- 4. Weider’s Red Yeast Rice
- 5. Solgar Red Yeast Rice
- Benefits of Red Yeast Rice
- Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice
- Is Red Yeast Rice Safe?
- Is Red Yeast Rice Bad For Your Kidneys?
- Why Take Red Yeast Rice At Night?
- What To Check Before Buying Red Yeast Rice Brands?
- Final Thoughts
- Christopher Evans
What is Monacolin K?
Monacolin K is a key ingredient found in red yeast rice, a type of rice that’s been fermented with a specific kind of yeast.
It’s important because it’s just like a medicine called lovastatin, which doctors prescribe to help lower cholesterol. Taking Monacolin K works by slowing down a process in your body that makes cholesterol.
This can lead to a decrease in ‘bad’ cholesterol, known as LDL, and overall cholesterol levels. However, the amount of Monacolin K in red yeast rice products isn’t always the same, making it tricky to know how much you should take to be effective.
The physicians recommend 0-5.4 mg of monacolin K in a red yeast rice capsule.
The FDA monitors these products because if they have too much Monacolin K, they’re almost like taking a prescription drug.
8 Red Yeast Rice Brands to Avoid
Before we go into the details, look at the following table, which summarizes why you should skip certain red yeast rice brands.
|Red Yeast Brands
|Reason for Avoidance
|Unclear on Monacolin K content; reported side effects like stomach aches and energy loss.
|Contains lovastatin, which can cause serious health issues; FDA warnings against it.
|Lacks ingredient transparency; unverified Monacolin K levels; reported allergic reactions.
|Inadequate information on ingredients; unproven effectiveness on cholesterol.
|No clear ingredient list; difficulty in swallowing pills; reported nausea and throat discomfort.
|No evidence of Monacolin K; consumers reported increased cholesterol after use; hard to swallow.
|FDA has not evaluated the claims; the consumer reports pain and digestive issues.
|21st Century Red Yeast Rice
|Lack of clarity in disclosing ingredients, particularly Monacolin K
1. Spring Valley
A single pack of Spring Valley red yeast rice supplements contains 120 capsules, each with 600 milligrams of Monacolin K, at least that is what the label says.
However, there is no clear indication that this product includes Monacolin K.
Spring Valley supplements don’t help lower cholesterol levels.
Instead, it has been noticed that many consumers have complained about stomach aches, lightheadedness, pain in bones and joints, and headaches after the consumption of Spring Valley red rice supplements.
Moreover, these supplements also cause vision issues and a lack of energy in some consumers.
The biggest reason to include this brand in our list was that although it claimed to be using Monacoin in its products, you are not sure whether they have it.
So, if they had been clear about the chemicals they use in their products, it would be a lot more convenient for people.
Swanson red yeast rice supports cardiovascular health and healthy lipid levels in the blood and helps bring the blood cholesterol level to the normal range.
You might be wondering what has made us include this brand of red yeast rice brands to avoid. Well, you will get your answers here.
Swanson claims that their red yeast rice supplements have Monacolin K. However, they actually have lovastatin, and the warning came from the FDA itself.
As someone prescribed drugs to control their cholesterol levels, you might be pretty familiar with lovastatin.
This chemical can lead to kidney failure and muscle tissue breakdown.
Moreover, if taken with other antibiotics, antidepressants, other cholesterol medications, and medication for fungal and HI infections, it can cause severe health problems.
So, if you take any of the abovementioned medicines, you should avoid these red yeast rice supplements.
3. Only Natural
The manufacturers claim that these cholesterol-lowering supplements are natural ingredients and red yeast.
However, if you look at the label to check the ingredients, you will not get a clear insight.
As a well-known brand, if they are claiming something, they should at least show some proof for the consumers to rest assured.
Moreover, they also haven’t mentioned the exact amount of Monacolin K used in their supplements.
As far as we have seen, these supplements don’t help lower or control cholesterol. So, this indicates that they might not even have Monacolin K at all.
The most prominent reason not to suggest using Only Natural red rice supplements is the rash developments and skin allergic reactions that many consumers have complained about.
Like Only Natural, Sundance also doesn’t give a clear insight into its red rice supplements.
It claims that there is the use of cholesterol-lowering natural herbs in its products; however, which herbs, to be exact, we don’t know.
Knowing about the exact herns is very important because you never know if they might contain an herb/herbs you are allergic to.
Also, there is no proof that these affect lowering high cholesterol levels.
Moreover, Monacolin K is indicated in Sundance red rice supplements. As it says on the label, “each capsule contains 600 mg of red yeast rice.”
5. Nature’s Plus
According to the Food Development Authority, this brand has “improper ingredient transparency.”
It means that just like the brand above, it also doesn’t give insight into the ingredients used in their capsules.
There is 600 mg of red rice in each supplement, but we are not sure whether it has Monacolin K or not.
However, if you think that is the only reason to include this in our list. There is much more to it.
Nature’s Plus red rice supplements have terrible consumer reviews.
As per people, the capsules are huge, and you can’t swallow them without feeling pain and discomfort in the throat.
In addition, a few consumers have complained of nausea and discomfort after consuming these capsules.
6. Mason Natural
As per the label, these red yeast rice capsules contain Silicon Dioxide, Magnesium Stearate, and Gelatin (bovine).
It means there is not much proof that these have Monacolin K to control cholesterol.
In reality, they do the opposite; at least, we have found what consumers say.
After consuming Mason Naturals red yeast rice capsules, people claimed their cholesterol had worsened.
Moreover, these supplements are huge, so people find them hard to swallow.
The brand also claims to have natural herbs in its capsules, but there is no information on herbs.
So, if you don’t want to end up with allergies or rashes, then avoid taking these.
However, you can look at the consumer reviews if you are still confused. But still, it would be risky, and it is up to you whether you want to take a risk or not.
“Non-irradiated and Citrinin-free” is how Solaray represents these red yeast rice capsules that are tested and verified in the lab and are free of any impurities, contaminants, and radiation.
They are free of pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals, and major allergens.
Moreover, these capsules are also tested for potency, identity, and purity in the Naturaceutucal’s lab.
However, this is all that the brand itself claims. The Food Development Authority hasn’t confirmed any of this.
This brand has many good things, but I do not recommend it because the FDA hasn’t evaluated it. It is what you might be thinking, right?
But don’t worry, we are not shooting in the dark; we have selected this brand based on the reviews.
A consumer has said that they felt pain in their legs after taking the supplements. Many people complained about stomach aches and severe migraines.
It might be a coincidence if only one person was facing such problems. But with so many people, it doesn’t look like a coincidence anymore.
So, this was all about the red yeast rice brands to avoid. If you don’t want your cholesterol to go higher than before, you should stay away from these.
8. 21st Century Red Yeast Rice
Last on our list of bad red yeast rice brands is 21st Century. It is a popular choice for natural cholesterol management, which raises concerns due to its lack of transparency and inconsistency.
The brand’s failure to provide detailed information about its ingredients, particularly the levels of Monacolin K, is a significant drawback.
This lack of clarity about what consumers are ingesting poses a risk to efficacy and safety.
Additionally, reports of side effects similar to those associated with statin medications, such as muscle pain and weakness, further question its reliability.
Given these issues, 21st Century Red Yeast Rice emerges as a less favorable option for those seeking a dependable and natural approach to managing cholesterol levels.
Watch this video to learn what Dietitian Nutritionist Mary Donkersloot says about Red Yeast Rice.
5 Recommended Red Yeast Rice Brands
Just as we promised at the beginning of this article, we will tell you about a few of the best red yeast rice brands you can use to control your cholesterol level.
Here are 5 red yeast rice brands that can help you lower your cholesterol level without affecting your health.
1. Arazo Nutrition
Are you looking for a high-quality, non-irradiated, pure source of red yeast rice? It is what you need.
Arzo Nutrition’s red yeast rice capsules are tested and verified for impurities and contaminants.
Moreover, these supplements are also free of Citrinin, which can lead to kidney failure if present.
There are 120 capsules in a pack, each with 1200 gm of red yeast rice. You don’t have any prescription for these, so you can buy them over the counter.
Arzo Nutrition’s red yeast rice supplements have all-natural ingredients that help lower cholesterol levels.
2. Thorne Research Choleast
Thorne Research Choleast is a well-known and trusted red rice brand. It has been tested by 100+ professional teams, including 11 US Olympics.
Also, these capsules support cardiovascular health, guarantee healthy lipid levels, and control cholesterol levels.
In addition, Thorne Research Choleast supplements include Monacolin K, Coenzyme Q 10, and red yeast rice.
Overall, this helps keep your cholesterol levels under control and lower them, thus giving you good health without any side effects.
If this seems what you are looking for, this is the right choice for you.
3. Puritan’s Pride
The last red yeast rice brand that we recommend is Puritan’s Pride. No, not that Puritan from literature, but a red yeast rice brand.
If you are tired of those low-quality red yeast rice brands that don’t help you even a single bit despite claiming big, then here is the best alternative you can get.
These capsules are formulated with red rice powder already rich in Monacolin K.
Moreover, Puritan’s Pride red yeast rice supplements have been tested for potency, purity, and consistency.
They also contain Coenzyme Q 10, which provides antioxidant support.
4. Weider’s Red Yeast Rice
After incorporating Weider’s red yeast rice into my daily routine, I’ve noticed a positive change in managing my cholesterol levels.
Each serving delivers 1200mg of high-quality red yeast rice without any Monacolin K, aligning with my preference for natural ingredients.
The capsules also include a thoughtful mix of additives like magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide to ensure quality and stability.
While the label mentions components like medium-chain triglycerides and soy, they don’t overshadow the core benefit of red yeast rice.
By pairing these supplements with regular exercise and a balanced diet, I’ve found a sustainable way to support my heart health.
Weider’s approach to using phytosterols to reduce cholesterol absorption has been effective for me, making it a reliable choice in my wellness toolkit.
5. Solgar Red Yeast Rice
Solgar has established its red yeast rice capsules as a reliable option for those seeking a plant-based supplement.
Manufactured through the careful fermentation of cooked rice with Monascus purpureus yeast, these capsules meet the needs of individuals on a gluten-free diet encased in vegetable-derived material.
The brand suggests that for optimal benefits, these red yeast rice capsules should be taken alongside Coenzyme Q-10, enhancing the overall health potential of the supplement.
Solgar’s attention to purity and detail makes them trustworthy in the natural supplements market.
Benefits of Red Yeast Rice
Here are some potential benefits of consuming red yeast rice.
Regular consumption of red yeast rice may contribute to overall cardiovascular health.
Lowering cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease and associated conditions like stroke and heart attack.
This benefit is particularly significant given the global prevalence of heart-related ailments.
Red yeast rice is renowned for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This is primarily due to the presence of Monacolin K, which is chemically similar to the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin.
By inhibiting a key enzyme in the cholesterol synthesis pathway, it helps reduce overall cholesterol levels.
Red yeast rice contains compounds that exhibit antioxidant properties.
These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to various chronic diseases and aging processes.
Potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects:
Some studies suggest that red yeast rice may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases, and managing it can improve overall health.
Traditional Use in Improving Digestion and Circulation:
Historically, red yeast rice has been used in Asian cultures for its medicinal properties and as a dietary component to aid digestion and improve blood circulation.
Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice
When considering red yeast rice for cholesterol management, it’s important to be aware of the potential for adverse effects, though they may not be common.
- Liver and Kidney Impact: There are concerns about the potential impact of red yeast rice on liver and kidney function. Regular monitoring of liver enzymes is recommended for individuals consuming these supplements.
- Muscle Pain and Weakness: Like statin drugs, red yeast rice can cause muscle pain and weakness, a condition known as myopathy. This is particularly concerning as it can lead to more severe muscle damage over time.
- Risk of Citrinin Contamination: Improper fermentation of red yeast rice can lead to contamination with citrinin, a toxin that can cause kidney damage. This highlights the importance of choosing high-quality supplements from reputable sources.
- Variability in Monacolin K Content: The amount of Monacolin K in red yeast rice products can vary significantly, making it difficult to manage dosage and predict effects. This variability can lead to inconsistent therapeutic outcomes.
- Potential Drug Interactions: Red yeast rice can interact with various medications, including other cholesterol-lowering drugs, increasing the risk of adverse effects. It’s crucial for individuals on medication to consult healthcare providers before using these supplements.
- Not Recommended for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: Due to the lack of research on its safety, red yeast rice is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to red yeast rice, including skin rashes and gastrointestinal distress.
Is Red Yeast Rice Safe?
Yes, as per the research of NCCIH, Red Yeast Rice is safe, and it helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
The safety of red yeast rice products has become a topic of discussion due to the variable content of monacolin K. Here’s a concise analysis of the safety concerns:
Monacolin K Levels: The amount of monacolin K in red yeast rice products varies widely, which makes it difficult for consumers to predict their intake and potential effects.
FDA Stance: The U.S. FDA does not allow red yeast rice products containing substantial levels of monacolin K to be sold as dietary supplements because they are akin to the drug lovastatin.
Potential Risks: Products with significant monacolin K can have side effects similar to statins, including muscle, kidney, and liver issues. Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain are also reported.
Drug Interactions: Like statin medications, red yeast rice may interact with other drugs, increasing the risk of adverse effects.
Citrinin Contamination: Many red yeast rice products have been found to contain citrinin. This kidney-damaging toxin adds to safety concerns.
Use During Pregnancy: Due to the lack of research, red yeast rice is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals.
Considering these points, the safety of red yeast rice products depends on their composition and how they are used.
P.S: Never take red yeast rice capsules with;
- Grapefruit Juice
- Other statins
- Hepatotoxic drugs and supplements
Consumers must consult healthcare providers before using these supplements, especially given the lack of consistent labeling regarding monacolin K content.
Is Red Yeast Rice Bad For Your Kidneys?
No, red yeast rice, when used as an extract called Xuezhikang (XZK), might be good for your kidneys if you have high cholesterol.
In a study done on rats, this extract helped lower bad cholesterol and protected the kidneys from damage. It also reduces swelling and inflammation in the kidneys.
So, based on this study, red yeast rice doesn’t seem to be bad for the kidneys; it might actually help them, especially when dealing with high cholesterol.
However, it’s important to remember that what works in rats might not work the same way in people. Always check with your doctor before using red yeast rice or any other supplements.
Why Take Red Yeast Rice At Night?
Taking red yeast rice supplements at night aligns with your body’s peak cholesterol production, which typically occurs while you sleep.
This timing could potentially make the supplement more effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
Red yeast rice acts similarly to statin medications, targeting the same liver enzyme responsible for cholesterol creation.
Clinical research has demonstrated that it can effectively reduce cholesterol levels when taken regularly.
However, due to the less stringent regulation of supplements than prescription medications, red yeast rice’s potency and purity can vary significantly between different brands and batches.
This variability makes it essential to consult with a healthcare provider.
Not only to confirm the need for such a supplement but also to help choose a product that is both safe and reliable.
What To Check Before Buying Red Yeast Rice Brands?
Before using any of the brands, make sure you get a suggestion from a specialist.
There are different brands in the market, so before purchasing from anyone, you should know what to check to find out which brand is right for you.
- You should see if it contains an ingredient called lovastatin or monacolin K because these are the active ingredients that lower cholesterol levels. If the brand does not have these ingredients, it will be ineffective at treating high cholesterol levels and weight loss.
- Check the percentage of lovastatin or monacolin K in each capsule or pill. Usually, the lower the number, the better the result and the more effective the supplement.
- Ensure it has a high potency, or it will be ineffective at lowering cholesterol levels and losing weight. If the label says “high potency”, this means the product is very effective at lowering cholesterol levels and losing weight.
- Also, it should have the least number of ingredients as possible. This helps to reduce your chances of getting any side effects. – The active ingredients of the brand should be natural, or they will be more effective than products that have been synthetically made.
- You should also check if the manufacturer of the Red Yeast Rice brand has a good reputation. You can find this by visiting customer reviews online or calling the manufacturer’s customer service to check if they have any complaints.
- Make sure that the product does not have any artificial additives, preservatives, flavorings, or colorings.
In Summary, people have been using red yeast rice to control their blood cholesterol levels for a long time. However, this is not a medication on your own.
Although there are a few supplements that you can buy easily, you should always consult your doctor first.
There might be a few ingredients or chemicals that can cause allergies and even some severe health problems like kidney failure.
While buying red yeast rice supplements, you can never trust every Tom, Dick, and Harry. It is essential to be aware of the bad ones.
That is precisely what we are helping you with. From Swanson to Spring Valley, we have mentioned 7 red yeast rice brands to avoid someone seeking a way to lower their cholesterol.
The list has been organized mainly based on consumer reviews, so forget about any favoritism here.
We hope you found this article helpful. On a side note, which supplements do you take to lower your cholesterol levels, and have they ever caused any problems?
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Christopher Evans is a Mechanical Engineer and is a distinguished expert in tire and electronic appliance testing with over 15 years of experience. Holding certifications like Automotive Tire Service (TIA) and Certified Appliance Professional (CAP). He is also a member of the the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and has significantly contributed to safety standards and testing protocols in both industries. Evans is a respected speaker and award recipient.